UW provides specific details on start of phased return
LARAMIE, Wyo. – Freshmen slated to live in University of Wyoming residence halls, along with all those enrolled in face-to-face first-year seminars, are among the UW students who will return to campus for the start of some in-person classes Monday, Sept. 7.
The university’s fall term will start as scheduled Monday, Aug. 24, but all courses will be online to begin the semester, under the revised plan approved by UW’s Board of Trustees this week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While students currently in UW’s residential housing or already on campus for early-starting academic programs are being allowed to stay, other students will return to the university in phases. The details of those phases were outlined in a virtual town-hall meeting led by President Ed Seidel Thursday evening.
UW students and employees are taking free COVID-19 saliva tests before returning to campus, through a third-party company called Vault Health.
“Our basic message to our students is this: If you are already in Laramie and/or in UW residential housing, you should stay, even though your classes are all online to start,” Seidel says. “If you are not currently in Laramie, you want to move into your apartment or house and your Vault test is negative — come, take your classes online, but please avoid situations that put you and others at risk. If you are a freshman, we look forward to seeing you when you come to campus in September for the beginning of your in-person college experience Sept. 7.”
The revised plan calls for all students to return by Sept. 28 for eight full weeks of face-to-face instruction in courses scheduled for that mode of delivery. During all phases this fall, everyone on the UW campus is required to wear face protection and practice 6-foot physical distancing.
Here are details on the four phases in the revised return plan:
Phase 1, Aug. 24-Sept. 4 — Almost all courses are online. Students allowed on campus are those already here, including student-athletes; ROTC cadets; speech-language pathology graduate students; WWAMI Medical Education Program students; junior nursing students; College of Law Summer Institute and first-year law students; Bridge Program students; and other graduate students with dean approval. Students who meet certain hardship criteria also will be allowed to move into the residence halls as had been scheduled.
During this phase, a random-sample testing program will be implemented for those on campus, in addition to the pre-return test. Outdoor activities and events will continue on campus, following face protection and physical distancing requirements. For first-year students, Cowboy Connect events will proceed virtually; student groups will begin with virtual meetings; and advisers will connect with students virtually.
Among the offices that will begin to reopen in Knight Hall are the cashier’s office, the dean of students, the registrar, scholarships and financial aid, and admissions.
Phase 2, Sept. 7-25 — Most courses remain online, with the exception of first-year seminars, which will shift from online to face-to-face instruction (for those that were schedule to be in person), and some pharmacy courses. Students on campus include all those from Phase 1, along with all first-year students in the residence halls; freshmen taking face-to-face first-year seminars; all law students; students in the Literacy Research Center and Clinic; and first-year pharmacy students.
Random-sample testing will continue in this phase, and campus buildings will further reopen gradually.
Phase 3, Sept. 28-Nov. 20 — All students are welcomed to campus, and courses will be delivered with a mixture of in-person and online instruction. In-person student activities will be expanded, and many campus buildings will be open, including Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center (likely by appointment).
The university will operate a surveillance testing program under which all students, faculty and staff who come to campus will take saliva tests twice a week.
Phase 4, Nov. 23-Dec. 11 – All courses and final exams will be conducted online. Students will leave the residence halls, except for those granted exceptions. Campus buildings will shift to restricted access, and the surveillance testing program will continue for those remaining on campus.
The phased approach was developed in response to evolving information about COVID-19 showing that testing, contact tracing and rapid isolation — combined with measures such as requiring face protection and physical distancing — are crucial to minimize the spread of the virus on college campuses.
The university also has established criteria that would trigger a pause in the return plan, which would involve employees shifting to remote work; moving all courses online; and requiring students to shelter in residence halls and other residences. Those details may be found in the UW COVID-19 contingency plan.